Thesis Title: "Ahora tienen que escucharnos" [now they have to listen to us]: actors' understandings and meanings of planning practices in Venezuela's 'participatory democracy'
First Supervisor: Dr Francesca Sartorio
Second Supervisor: Dr Valeria Guarneros-Meza (Cardiff Business School)
Start Date: January 2012
Completion Date: December 2014
- MA (distinction) Planning Policy and Practice, London South Bank University (2006)
- MA Latin American Studies (urban politics specialisation), University of Liverpool (2004)
- 5 years’ urban planning consultant experience.
- Latin American Studies Association
Areas of Research Interest
Planning practice; participatory democracy; democratic innovations; Latin American (urban) politics.
Constitutional and legislative reforms in Venezuela have sought to increase citizen involvement in local/municipal planning practices. My thesis explores how participants taking part in these mechanisms understand and attribute meanings to local/municipal policymaking, planning and decision making processes. Two mechanisms form the case studies of the research: municipal level local public planning councils (CLPPs) and neighbourhood level community councils (CCs). The research involves an 'interpretive institutionalist' (Hay 2011) framework to study the data collected and generated in two municipalities in Caracas during fieldwork research undertaken in 2013. Methods used included documentary review, semi-structured interviews and (ethnographic) participant observation. The fieldwork was supported with an initial pilot study (in a third municipality of Caracas) during February and March 2013.
The thesis will contribute to research literature regarding participation in planning practices, how citizens, politicians and professionals understand these and how they are implemented in practice. It will be of interest to those interested in democratic theory, particularly democratic innovations, as well as planning theorists. The research will also provide empirical insights for those involved in interpretive and/or institutionalist research approaches.
Describe and explain, from CLPP and CC participants' 'webs of belief' and experiences:
- The meaning of participatory democracy
- The role of citizen participation in policy making and planning
- How participants see themselves (their agency) within policy making and planning processes
- Whether citizen involvement has changed the process of policy making and decision making in the municipal governance context.
- What policies created via CLPP and CCs mean to them?
- If citizens achieve their community needs and preferences via CLPP and CC processes.
Participatory and Deliberative Democracy Specialist Group (PSA) Deepening Democracy conference, University of Bradford, “Urban governance reforms in Venezuela: moving beyond participatory rhetoric?” (September 2012).